Wilhelm Busch is, after Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, by far the most popular author of books for children in the German language. His Max and Moritz (1865), a story of two naughty boys whose pranks finally bring a well-deserved retribution, is reputed to be the best-selling illustrated book in all of literature. Unlike many authors of books for children, Busch is almost completely without sentimentality or facile optimism. His cartoons and verses, on the contrary, contain social satire far more harsh than that usually found in books for either children or adults. He often sought out the society of animals and children, simply because he found so much corruption among his fellow men and women. But what might have been a bitter perspective is relieved considerably by the humor with which it is depicted. Busch modernized the fable, a genre that, since Gotthold Lessing, had been seldom employed in German literature.